Op-Ed: Exploitation of Elders is Abusive

By Rachel Zenzinger

ARVADA PRESS

In 2009, one of my constituents in Arvada learned that her 80-year-old father, George, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My constituent, Chaya Finton, later discovered that one of her nephews had been stealing thousands of dollars from George’s bank account — and that George’s other daughter used George’s bank account to fund her family’s trip to Europe. Nearly $100,000 of George’s savings disappeared before anybody even noticed. Now the courts are trying to sort it out, and Chaya and her husband have spent more than $40,000 in legal fees.

Chaya’s story is tragic, disturbing — and sadly all too common. Throughout Colorado and across the country, seniors are increasingly targeted for fraud and exploitation. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, nearly 25 percent of fraud complaints in 2012 were filed by Americans over 60 years old, more than doubling the problem from the time in 2008 when 10 percent of seniors were defrauded. In 2010, financial abuse cost older Americans nearly $3 billion.

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